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Posts Tagged ‘sunflowers’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s holiday in Forres.  He and his daughter Susan went down to see the sea at the mouth of Findhorn Bay.  There was a lot of sand about

Sand 2019

The weather today was as confused as the forecasts.  It couldn’t really make up its mind whether it was raining or not but it was dry enough in the morning to let me walk around the garden and admire Crown Princess Margareta’s latest flower.

am princess margareta rose

I looked at it again in  the afternoon and in spite of the gloomy and drizzly conditions, the flower showed clear signs of development.

pm princess margareta rose

As there are obviously more flowers waiting to come out, we can only hope that we don’t get a frosty morning soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s plan of planting small sunflowers with many blooms from one stem has paid off handsomely.  There are cheerful clumps all over the garden.

sunflower panel

This web of droplets could have done with a little sunshine to make them sparkle.

droplets

As well as the Crown Princess, Lilian Austin is doing her best to provide us with end of season colour.

lilian austin rose

As the day didn’t look very promising, I went in to do some work updating the Langholm Archive Group web pages and had to dust off some rather rusty memories of HTML, PHP and Cascading Style Sheets.   I thought that I had done a reasonable job of getting it up to date but when I double checked after writing that previous sentence, I found that there is still some work to be done.

When I got up from the computer, the drizzle had stopped so I got my bicycle out and headed off to do 20 miles.  No sooner had I got half a mile from the house, than the drizzle started again and as I went along, the drizzle turned to rain.

I had sound waterproof socks on and I was wearing an efficient rain jacket so the rain wasn’t a great problem (apart from making me go cautiously round corners).  All the same, I didn’t want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere if conditions got worse, so I pedalled up and down the 7 miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back three times to get my distance.

The camera stayed well tucked up in a waterproof pocket.

I had a late lunch and then watched the men’s cycling world championship time trial on the telly.  The winner did 54km (about 34 miles) in 1 hour and 5 minutes.  I had taken 1 hour and 33 minutes to do 33km.  These professional cyclists are superhuman.

When the time trial had finished, I checked on the weather and as the drizzle had stopped, I went out for a walk round the garden.

The fuchsias in one spot have done so badly over recent years that Mrs Tootlepedal moved most of them but this one plant that remained has flowered well just to spite her.

fuschia end of Sept

After a very slow start, when it looked as though they weren’t enjoying the summer at all and were also getting badly attacked by slugs, this bunch of  dahlias is looking better by the day.

dahlias end of Sept

Having walked round the garden, I got my unused cycling camera out again and took it for a short walk.

It was dank and gloomy….

eastons walk

…but there are still plenty of leaves on the trees.

near the hungry burn

It is a mixed picture with autumn colour here and there…

faded leaves

…and fresh greenery there too.

stubholm track

When I looked out over the town, I could just see the tops of the hills.

misty view stubholm

It was so gloomy that I had to use my flash to take any pictures of detail as I went along.

There were not a lot of wild flowers to be seen.

red campion

I couldn’t make up my mind if this growth on a dead tree branch was fungus or lichen.

fungus on dead branch

The park wall has a positive garden growing on top of it…

wild strawberry park wall

…and a fine crop of pixie cup lichens sprouting out of the side.

pixie cup lichen park wall

When I got in, it was time for my evening meal and I enjoyed some fish cakes with runner beans from the garden.

It has been a quiet day in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal (who is having a satisfactory time in London visiting our daughter and new granddaughter) but with a short walk, a short pedal, some flute practising and a bit of useful computer work, it hasn’t been entirely wasted.

I even managed to get a flying bird of the day as a starling launched itself of an electricity wire.

flying starling close

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who came across this boat, The Ship of Tolerance, an artwork on the Thames by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. The sails are made by children from 40 London primary schools.  You can out more about it here.

ship of tolerance

Today we said goodbye to summer after a great week of sunny weather.  The contrast with yesterday’s cloudless skies could hardly have been more stark.  The only sun available was just outside the front door in floral form and that was as far as I cared to go as the rain was pouring down.

soggy sunflower tower

Then I got out my umbrella and walked to church in the rain where a choir which reached double figures and some good singing hymns injected cheer into a gloomy day.  (One of the readings was from the prophet Jeremiah who was even gloomier than the weather.)

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal and I were able to walk round the garden in a sloshy sort of way as the rain eased off for a while.  The non scientific rain gauge showed how much rain had arrived overnight.

unscientific rain gauge

The Charles Ross apples are well protected by their foliage and should provide source material for future tartes, chutneys and pies.

charles ross apples

We have been well supplied with turnips lately too.

turnip

Squelching across the lawns and paddling among the puddles soon lost its charm though and we went back in.

dahlia in rain

After lunch, we drove to Carlisle where Mrs Tootlepedal caught the train to London to visit our daughter and our new grandchild, and I went to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.

The train was on time and even reached London a little early, so Mrs Tootlepedal was happy.  At the choir, we had a very good substitute conductor who got through a power of work, so I was happy too….or at least as happy as I could be in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who will be gone for a week.

With rain forecast for most days, and with Mrs Tootlepedal away and both Sandy and Dropscone on holiday, it looks as though it is going to be a quiet week ahead.  Still, the temperature is holding up well, so if there are any chances for a quick pedal or a walk, I should be able to take them.

No birds at all again today but an argyranthemum sportingly agreed to pose as the flying bird of the day for me.

argyranthemum in rain

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is visiting the Glasgow area and found himself at the start of the West Highland way in Milngavie.  He is not going to walk it though as it is 96 miles long.

west highland way start

I have always believed that the autumn equinox came on the 21st of September so it was rather a disappointment to find that this year, it will not arrive until Monday 23rd.  Today would have been a wonderful day to mark the end of summer, as the sun shone from dawn till dusk and there was not a cloud in the sky all day.

It was quite windy though so I was more than happy when Mrs Tootlepedal suggested an outing and this gave me a good excuse to leave my bike in the garage.

After a quick look at a couple of sunny flowers in the garden…

nastutium and gladiolus

…we set off in the Zoe to go to the ‘Hidden River Cafe’.

We had only quite recently heard about this place although it has been open for some years, so it has definitely been quite well hidden.

It  is not far from Longtown but the last few miles were done at a stately pace as we got behind a tractor on a very narrow road.  This was not as troublesome as it would have been if we were still in our old car.  One of the benefits of the electric car is that it is a pleasure to drive at any pace.

We found the cafe and enjoyed a coffee and a delicious slice of cake while sitting in the sunshine on their outdoor terrace.  We asked if we might take a walk round after we had finished and they were happy to let us explore.  Basically the the site is home to six log cabins for holiday lets.  They are well spread out on  the bank of the River Lyne and we walked along the access road.

hidden log cabins

If you want a holiday with full time peace and quiet, this is the place to go.

The cabins are substantial and made of big logs!

log cabin

One of the staff kindly showed us round a cabin and it was impressive inside.

This was the view from its patio.

river lyne

The site is part of a working farm and although we were serenaded by buzzards as we went along, and passed an oak tree laden with acorns…

log cabin wild life

…there were no wild flower meadows and no birds singing, just an occasional fungus and some straggly ragwort.

The lack of flying insects all around our area is getting worrying, perhaps caused by the the lack of wild flower .  This in turn may be causing a shortage of birds.  I wish that I knew more about what is going on.

Still, it was a beautiful spot and we are told that the cooking at the cafe is very good so we were pleased to have finally discovered it.

We took a diversion on the way home to visit a garden centre where Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a painted lady on the merchandise and I bought some sand to treat the lawns at home.

garden centre butterfly

We got home in time for lunch and then we went out into the garden to make some use of the good weather.

We had plenty of butterflies about but oddly enough, there were no peacock butterflies to be seen today when I was looking.

three butterflies

The sedums are the centre of attention just now as the buddleias are almost over.

bees in sedum

The orange hawkweed is in fine fettle…

orange hawkweed sept

…and the mountain of sunflowers seems to be getting bigger every day.

massed sunflowers

I did some more dead heading but my chief business was getting the grass cut before the rains come next week.    It was time to raise the cutters to their autumn height but looking at my records, this is easily the best the lawns have looked so late in September.

middle lawn equinox

I may have mentioned before that though it has been a funny year for weather, it has undoubtedly been a very good year for grass,

front lawn equinox

I take my hat off to the makers of the moss eating lawn fertiliser too as it has worked very well.

I mowed the green house grass but it has a different mower and is cut to a rougher standard.

green house grass equinox

The  I sieved a little compost from Bin D…

compost sieving

…and then, because it was really quite hot in the sun, I went in and had a sit down.

After a cup of tea and two iced buns, I had got enough strength back to try out my new shoes on a walk up a hill.

Once again, there was not much in the way of things to look at beside the track but I did see a pale fungus on a moss covered tree trunk and a lonely scabious.

fungus and scabious

I chose the track up Warbla for my walk as it has a gentle gradient and a good walking surface on a dry day…

Warbla track

…and some splendid views.  This one is looking up the Esk valley towards the Gates of Eden

warbla view gates of eden

…and this one, from the summit, is looking over the Solway plain towards the English hills in the distance.

solway plain from warbla

As Mrs Tootlepedal was busy cooking our evening meal, I didn’t hang about on the summit and after a look down over the town…

Warbla view of town

…I took the track back down the hill, turning off to cut down to the road at the Auld Stane Brig and passing this fine burst of haws on a hawthorn tree just before the gate onto the road.

hawrthorn berries

It was a three mile walk and my new shoes worked very well and my feet gave me little trouble.

I met my occasional neighbour Ken as I got home.  He is the same age as me and has at least as many, if not more, medical problems than I have, but all the same he tells me that he is getting near to 5000 cycling miles for the year so far, twice as many as me.  I shall have to stop complaining  all the time and get working.  He is an example to us all.

I forgot about a flying bird of the day while I was preparing this post so there isn’t one.  It has flown.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s meal was worth hurrying down the hill for.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He is visiting Aranjuez in Spain.  It is 30 mins from Madrid and is a town built around a Royal Palace.  His picture shows one of the rooms in the so called ‘Labourer’s House’.  I don’t think that the labourer lives there any more.

Aranjuez

We had a busy morning, and straight after breakfast we had to drive off to Annan where I had an appointment with the podiatrist in the hope that she would be able to suggest ways of getting me walking comfortably again.

While I went to the clinic, Mrs Tootlepedal passed the time with some shopping at a handy supermarket.

The podiatrist was sympathetic, very thorough and helpful.  She told me to stop doing one or two things that I have been doing and to start doing one or two things that I haven’t been doing and, more importantly, suggested that a certain type of shoe might be a sensible purchase.  As it happened such shoes are available at the Gretna shopping village and we had already planned to visit Gretna on the way home so that Mrs Tootlepedal could buy a skirt.  That was handy.

When we got to Gretna, there was a good selection of the ‘walking trainers’ with stiff soles that the podiatrist had recommended and I bought a pair that had the added advantage of being marked down to a very reasonable price.  Mrs Tootlepedal found a suitable skirt, so we drove home in a cheerful frame of mind.

It was another dry day, though not very sunny, and we had a look round the garden before we had lunch.  The sedums were very busy hosting various small life forms…

insects on sedum

…while the butterflies had spread out over the garden, some on the sedum, some seeking the sun and some sitting on stone.

three butterflies

The sunflowers are doing  very well, and all these five flowers come from a  single stem.

four garden flowers

After lunch, which was sweet corn and a sardine sandwich, I got my bike out and went off for a pedal.  The wind was light so I thought that I might risk going on a slightly hillier route than usual and headed north out of the town.  This involved going  up a couple of steep but short hills right at the start of the ride.  I went at them so slowly and cautiously that time lapse photography might have been needed to detect any progress.

Still, it meant that I got to the top of the hills in very good order and with no unnecessary creaking in the knees. so it was worth it.

I rode along, still going pretty slowly and with an eye out for a photo opportunity.  The Gates of Eden on a day of sunshine and shadow is always an opportunity not to be missed.

gates of eden spetember

(I checked and they have appeared on the blog at least nineteen times over the past nine years.)

Further up the valley, it became obvious that as the weeks go by, we are losing the green on the tops of our hills and colour is beginning to gently fade away.

Esk valley

I followed the Esk up stream and stopped to admire this stark example of timber management.

tree felling

When I had got to Bailliehill, my turning point at ten miles, I looked back down the Esk valley and took a little panorama of one of my favourite views.

bailliehill panorama

A click will give the bigger picture.

Coming back down towards Langholm, a colourful tree stood out among the green.

Tree above benty

And I couldn’t pass by the church and bridge at Bentpath without taking yet another shot of them…

benty church

…and as I was standing beside a wall while I was taking the picture of the church, I looked at it too.

three benty lichens

I had forgotten to take my phone with me so I was naturally expecting to be overtaken by a mechanical or human catastrophe with the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service unavailable, but I got back home without any unwanted adventures to find that the rescue service herself was resting after some hard work in the garden.

After a cup of tea and a shower, I thought that it would be a good idea to put my new walking shoes to the test so I went out for a short, flat walk round three bridges.

It can’t be ignored any more, autumn is definitely in the process of arriving.

riverside autumn leaves

At the Kilngreen, a duck was admiring its reflection in the water.

sombre duck ewes

On the Castleholm, some trees are getting ahead of themselves as far as autumn goes.

This tree always turns early….

 

tree turning castleholm

…but normally we would be waiting for October to come before we see any significant change in leaf colour.

castleholm trees seprember

I came home by way of the Duchess Bridge and found this little crop of fungus growing on a dead tree stump along the path.

riverside fungus

Our neighbour Liz’s garage rounded my walk off with a full blown burst of autumn colour.

liz's garage

My new shoes seemed to be quite satisfactory for a first go.  The podiatrist is going to send me some insoles for them which should make them even better, so I am cautiously optimistic about being able to get a bit more walking in before winter comes.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked lamb chops for tea and that rounded off a varied, useful and enjoyable day.

The flying bird of the day is having a little sit down.

sparrow on fence

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her father, shows Matilda posing with flowers in the botanic gardens in Edinburgh.

Matilda and flower

The forecast had suggested that if I wanted to cycle in dry conditions, a prompt start might be advisable as rain was on the way by midday  It seemed like a plausible prediction so I arranged with Dropscone for coffee at eleven and set off after breakfast to go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Although I could see rain across the plain below when I got to the top of the hill after 5 miles, I stuck to my belief in the forecast and pedalled on.  I took the precaution though of not stopping to take any pictures as I went round and my only pause was to answer a text from Sandy on the possibility of coffee.  I got round dry.

Both Dropscone and Sandy arrived on cue for coffee (and scones with apple jelly) and I was interested to find that Dropscone had a acquired a new second hand car as his previous vehicle after well over 100,000 miles had come to the end of its useful life.  His new vehicle is a youthful 7 year old.  It was also interesting to find out that Sandy had bought a new camera as his old pocket camera had also come to the end of its days.

After coffee, with the rain still holding off, Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some gardening.  I mowed a lawn and did some shredding while Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and did useful clearing up and letting light in.

I let some light into my camera.

The new bed continues to thrive and there are even a few second flush delphiniums threatening to come out.

poppies in new bed

Old friends are still flowering:

fuchsia, camanula and cornflower

It has been a good year for the fuchsias, the campanula is on its second burst and the cornflowers have been out all summer.

cosmos, marigold and anemone

The cosmos continues to delight, the French marigolds shine on after the carrots they protect have all been eaten and the Japanese anemones light up a dark corner of the garden.

Elsewhere there were small insects to make up for the lack of butterflies.

bug on dahlia

Easy to spot on the dahlia but harder to see hidden in a lamium flower.

bug in lamium

Mrs Tootlepedal has tried a new more dainty hosta this year and they are just coming into flower.

little hosta

A few flowers on a new dicentra offer promise of a great sensation next year.

new dicentra

And the onset of autumn can no longer be denied…

virginia creeper

…even though summer sights are still to be seen.

sunflowers

A small yellow weed with a prickly leaf has sprouted in the soon to be dismantled strawberry bed.

yellow weed

We had to leave the garden when the promised rain started at lunchtime and as it is still continuing as I wrote this in the evening, the only other flowers that I saw today were tastefully arranged by the head gardener in a vase indoors.

vase of flowers

I had plenty of Archive Group work to do though so I wasn’t bored and I found time to set up the tripod and get the camera to do some bird watching.

The sparrows were back, both on the seed feeder….

four sparrows

The one on the right looks as though it is smoking not snacking

…and on the fat balls.

sparrows on fatballs

A few chaffinches appeared and with the sparrows went in for sideways flying in a big way.

sideways birds

There was formation flying as well.

flying sparrow and chaffinch in unison

Later in the afternoon, while Mrs Tootlepedal did her embroidery accounts on the computer, I made a pound of raspberries that I had picked before the rain arrived into two jars of quick raspberry jam.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we started work on a trio sonata by Quantz which is quite demanding on finger agility and counting skills so we won’t be short of things to practice when the long nights draw in.

We are in for that meteorological paradox, a steady spell of changeable weather and gardening, cycling and walking will be a hit and miss affair for the next ten days.  It helps when, like today, the forecast is accurate.  I live in hope on that front.

The flying bird of the day is an elegantly arched  chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Highland correspondent Jenni.  She went even further north from Inverness for a cruise and found herself in Alaskan waters.

alaskan cruise

We had an uncharacteristically dull day here both as far as the weather went and my level of activity.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and at it early with a trip to Carlisle and back by bus before lunch but drizzly rain and a brisk breeze discouraged me from doing much more than a little garden tidying and a trip to the corner shop in a dry spell.

I didn’t even get my camera out until after lunch.

The dahlias don’t seem to mind the rain much…

yellow dahlia

…but a hellenium…

hellenium

..and a rudbeckia appear rather depressed.

rudbeckia

The small sunflowers make up in numbers what they lack in height…

short sunflowers

…and both the plums…

crowded plums

…and the apples can’t be accused of any lack of effort.

apples

Indeed, I have thinned the plums several times already and took off another twenty today without making any noticeable difference to the crop.

The Christmas tree, which is having its summer holiday in the vegetable garden, doesn’t seem very sure about which way it is going at all.

christmas tree august

I had some fun trying to photograph a fine red poppy.  It was exposed to the breeze and after several complete failures…

red poppy in wind 1

…I finally managed to catch it at the top of its swaying motion.

red poppy in wind 2

This little excursion completed my outdoor work for the day and I went in to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have another unavailing round in my battle against the recalcitrant printer. Printer 4 Tom 0.

A gloomy afternoon was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly flute playing efforts and I got a couple of new studies from the internet for us to play.  The internet is an endless source of free flute duets and I put that in the balance against the greed and manipulation of the big internet companies.

Our good spell of weather looks as though it has finally come to an end, with cooler temperatures and rain forecast for every day this week until the weekend.  I will have to remember what it is like to bicycle in less than perfect conditions if I am not to fall behind my schedule again.

For some mysterious reason, there have been hardly any birds in the garden for the last two days after a very busy spell so the flying bird of the day is a solitary siskin sitting down.

siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows an interesting robin, seen in Nottingham by my brother Andrew.

robin from nottingham

After many weeks absence, we saw a robin in our garden today….

robin in July

…but it was a rather more modest bird than the Nottingham one..

Alert readers will have noted the absence of Sandy from the blog in recent weeks.  The reason for this is that he has been very busy building a shed in his garden with the help of a friend who is knowledgeable about such things.  The shed is finally finished and he was able to come for a coffee today.  It was good to see him and catch up on his news.  I hope to go for a visit to the shed soon and get a picture of it.

The forecast was as unreliable as the weather today and we had a mixture of sunshine and showers.  Some unexpected sunshine  in the morning allowed time for gardening and while Mrs Tootlepedal did what she called ‘editing’, I did a little mowing, some hedge shortening (vertically rather than horizontally), dead heading, shredding and wandering about with my camera in my hand.

The first focus was on white things.

A set of hostas are producing very pretty white flowers….

white hosta flower

…and I like this paper white poppy.

white poppy

Although there is an occasional peacock butterfly about, I haven’t been able to get a good shot of them so I had to make do with a white butterfly on the buddleia again.

white butterfly on buddleia

More colourful flowers were to be seen.

yellow flowers

red flowers

I like sweet peas a lot so I am pleased to see them doing well this year.

sweet peas

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this flower is a California poppy or eschscholzia californica…

californian poppy

…but she is at a loss as to how it came to be where it is.  She had a packet of seeds at some time but she didn’t sow them there.

A lot of the tall sunflowers have fallen victim to the wind and the rain but happily, some have survived.

sunflowers

And Mrs Tootlepedal is particularly pleased that the zinnias have come through too.  She was giving them some extra support today.

zinnia survived

I liked the cheerful colours of her new berberis.

berberis

During the morning,  chief data miner Nancy called in with another pile of weeks of the newspaper index ready for entering in the database.  I shouldn’t complain as it gives me something useful to do on rainy days.

Having checked the forecast, which offered ‘rain later’, I had an early lunch and went out for a bike ride.  It was a day for skulking in the valley bottom with heavy clouds and a noticeable wind blowing.

“Rain later’ turned into ‘rain now’ when I got about four miles from town so I turned back with a view to considering my options when I got home.  Fortunately the rain stopped after about nine miles and I pottered back up the road again to the gate on Callister…

callister gate

…which is getting ever more overgrown.

The weather was set fair for a while…Callister view

…and with the wind now behind me, I whizzed back down the hill.  After four day with no cycling, the twenty miles just kept me ahead of my schedule for the year.  My timing was good as it started to rain soon after I got back.

I went upstairs to have a shower and took the opportunity to look down on the bird feeder from above for a change.

A chaffinch perched on the feeder pole…

chaffinch

…which was probably the safest place to be as down below a greenfinch was taking revenge for the kicking one of the family got from a chaffinch yesterday.

greenfinch kicking chaffinch

The unfortunate kickee made off at speed.

chaffinch departing

I had a closer look at the sparrow on the feeder…

bald sparrow

..and noticed that it has a bald patch.  The siskin on the right has been trapped and released by the bird ringers.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and was not allowed to leave without taking some courgettes.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and I had a useful idea which led to an improvement in his playing.  It is always helpful for a teacher to remember that if a pupil isn’t learning something, then the teacher not the pupil is probably almost certainly at fault.

In the evening, I went to play Telemann trios with Mike and Isabel.  I was a bit short of puff by the time that we got to the end of the third sonata but it was very enjoyable all the same.

The unsettled weather is set to continue and with strong winds and rain showers about tomorrow, I may have already completed my cycling for July!

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

 

 

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